Sunday, 21 August 2011 15:01

Film and X-Ray

Written by  Ken Ku
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Film in Zip Lock Bags Film in Zip Lock Bags Ken Ku

I know many, perhaps even all, of you don't know that there was a time that people did use something called FILM to take photos.  Nowadays we have it easy.  Digital cameras that weigh next to nothing, even the dSLR cameras are light.  I want a camera that is built like a tank and weighs like one too.  I'll take a Hasselblad over some 12 megapixel dSLR any day of the week.  However, it also means I have to carry a monumental amounts of film.  For the next 5 months I have allowed myself to take 210 rolls of medium format film and twenty packs of integral film.  Yes, your right my friend.  POLAROIDS!  Of course, I also have a digital camera, who in this digital age doesn't?  That is just for backup and social media.

So what is the best way to safe guard film while traveling?  First, NEVER put it into your checked baggage.  It might free save room in your carry on bag but it will definitely ruin your film.  The reason being the x-ray scanners for checked bags are much higher in intensity and not rated for film.  While I don't trust x-ray machines, the security checkpoint can safely scan 400 ISO passes when you have no choice.  So always hand carry ALL your film otherwise you will have fogged your images.
Most airports will hand check your film if you ask politely and be patient about it.  I quickly found out when how best to package large quantities of film on a trip to Cambodia.  I decided to bring 50 rolls of 35mm black and white film in their canisters and asked the TSO (Transportation Security Officer) to hand check them.  Although she was definitely not happy about the prospect of having to wipe every single container AND their contents of traces of bomb making material, she was kind enough to inform me the proper procedure.  If I wish have all my film hand checked in the future, I should take them all out of their packaging, canisters, etc. and put the film into a large clear ziplock bag. This way the TSO only needs to test the surface of the ziplock bag, instead of every single roll of film.
This method has worked more or less everywhere although I have heard that Heathrow will often times refuse to hand check your film.  If the agent refuses to hand check your film, then you just might have to take the gamble.  It depends on how many times your film has already gone through the machine as it is cumulative.  No matter what, always be polite and patient, hand checking will take time!
Last modified on Monday, 29 August 2011 15:49
Ken Ku

Ken Ku

A photographer/printmaker/perpetual wanderer going on a backpacking adventure around the world.  Follow my journey as I discover new places and meet new people!


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